Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Arriving Down Under in November 2009, the Liberty Exiga is the first People Mover sold by Subaru Australia. Interior room is benefitted by a taller than normal roofline (125mm taller than the Liberty sedan) and rear doors that open to almost a 90 degree angle for easier entry and exit. The 2 plus 2 plus 2 cabin seating layout is unique and the third row benefits from raised ‘theatre style’ seating to improve outwards vision.
Not so good A tall and narrow body might work for a super model on a catwalk, but in the car world it rarely results in a sexy design and the Exiga is no exception. As a result the standard 16 inch alloys look undersized.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The dash design is logical (we like the blue coloured interior illumination), driver visibility is impressive, the front seats are comfortable and the multi-function steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach = an easy place to spend hours behind the wheel. All three rows have fantastic amounts of headroom, second row legroom is most definitely adult friendly and standard on both grades is a rear DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch display screen and two sets of infa-red wireless headphones (so yes, a child and teenager friendly interior as well). The 3rd row seats split fold 50/50 and fold flat into the floor and the 2nd row seats split fold 60/40, can slide forward and backwards and the backrest also reclines. Cupholders are located all-round the cabin and the rear cargo area comes with 12 volt outlets, luggage hooks and pull out tie-down points.
Not so good The plastics on the dash are old-school shiny and hard rather than the newer rubbery and premium variety. The third row seats (so seating for the fifth and sixth passengers) are really only child friendly and with all three rows of seats in use the boot space is a very small 195L. Luckily this grows to a much more useable 460L with the third row seats folded flat into the floor.
Performance

Performance

Good The 4 cylinder 2.5L Boxer engine, fitted also to the Liberty sedan and wagon, produces 123kW of power and 229Nm of torque. On the move acceleration is good and the new continuously variable ‘Automatic’ transmission (CVT) featuring six electronic ratios are smooth and another plus of a CVT is an improvement in fuel efficiency.
Not so good Initial acceleration from a standing start never feels overly fast, however this is a common trait to a number of cars fitted with a CVT.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The Liberty Exiga sits on a combination of the Forester and the current Liberty & Outback’s AWD platform, providing ride and handling that is more car like than most People Mover’s – and that’s a good thing. The steering is light and precise with good accuracy.
Not so good Cabin road noise, especially over rough surfaces, is louder than we wished (most noticeable from the second and third rows).
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Ticks the safety box with Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control and six airbags (dual front, front side, and curtain airbags for all three rows) as standard. Also nice to know is that the Exiga has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP occupant safety rating (the highest rating available). An official combined fuel economy figure of 8.6L per 100kms is impressive for this size of vehicle and the Exiga’s Recommend Retail Price is thousands of dollars cheaper than the competing Honda Odyssey. Both grades come standard with a high level of features (i.e. dual zone climate control air-conditioning and the DVD entertainment system) with the Premium grade adding leather upholstery, powered front seats, satellite navigation, reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition and 17-inch alloys.
Not so good The spare wheel is a space saver temporary rather than a full size wheel (but only an issue if you get a flat tyre on a gravel road and you’re hours from home). The Liberty sedan, wagon and Outback come with a driver’s knee airbag yet the Liberty Exiga misses out. It’s a People Mover, yet misses out on the seventh seat. Why? Because in Japan the 7th seat (the second row middle seat) has a lap-only seatbelt. Thankfully Subaru Australia chose not to comprise safety to match the competition in seat capacity.